In my experience, most people who think that they hate running hate it because of the way they were “taught.” They were instructed to run laps as a warm-up or because they were late for practice, which resulted in them running as fast as they could so that they could get it over with, join their teammates, and begin their activity of choice. Running was a necessary evil – something that had to be done but not something that was ever valued on its own. Coaches may have made you run, but I’d venture to guess that they never explained why.
Many of us carry this mentality into adulthood. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have had someone profess to me how much they “hate” running. While running certainly isn’t for everyone, I am convinced that a substantial number of these individuals have never been taught to run correctly.
For example, the biggest mistake I see new runners make is trying to run too fast (or too far) too soon. They watch a Rocky montage, cue up Eye of the Tiger on their iPods, and sprint out the door. They lace up their shoes and start running as fast as they can for as long as they can (which usually doesn’t end up being very long). Huffing and puffing they return to their house feeling defeated, declare that they hate running, and never give it another thought. If this sounds familiar – I challenge you to try again.
So You Want to Be a Runner… (Here’s How):
1. Buy a Good Pair of Shoes.
It is essential that all runners have a good pair of running shoes. The 5 year old pair of Nikes sitting in the back of your closet probably aren’t the best choice for starting your fitness journey. Your shoes should fit properly and should be selected based on your gait type. (If you have no idea what I’m referring to – go to your local running store and get fit. Be sure to wear workout clothes, as many stores have treadmills on site and will be able to watch you run and analyze your foot strike prior to helping you select a shoe). Don’t be surprised if your running shoes are much larger than your street shoes. “Sizing up” is often done to avoid extra friction and blistering (my running shoes are a full size bigger than my street shoes). Another thing to keep in mind is that shoes typically have a lifespan of 300-500 miles and should be replaced regularly.
2. Establish a Routine.
Someone starting a running routine should not be trying to run every day. Although consistency is key (you won’t become a better runner by only running the occasional day here and there) it is also important not to try to do too much too soon. Running a few days a week (and taking rest days or cross training days in between) will be key to building a base without risking injury or burnout. The routine that you set should also fit within your lifestyle. If you know that you are not a morning person – suddenly trying to wake up before dawn 3 or 4 days a week is a recipe for disaster. If the early mornings are the only time you have available – ease into it the first few weeks. The most important thing is choosing a schedule that will help set you up for success.
3. Start Slow.
I can almost guarantee that if you “hate” running it’s because you are going too fast. New runners should not be worried about speed. Instead, the goal should be building up your mileage base. Base building mileage should be run at a comfortable talking pace. (Does this seem unfathomable to you? If so, you need to slow down!) Also, don’t be afraid to utilize a walk-run program where you alternate between running and walking segments (this doesn’t make you any less of a runner!) After my surgery, I followed a run-walk program where the running portion was only 30 seconds with 4 minute 30 second walk breaks in-between. Each session (or week, depending) then increased by 30 seconds on the run side and decreased by 30 seconds on the walk side until I was running for the full amount of time. Any program should be tailored to your current fitness and abilities (unfortunately, our adult bodies don’t seem to care if we were varsity athletes in high school). Joining a running group is also a great way to get started and many groups have specific subsets of newer runners (despite how it may seem from the outside, not everyone is always training for a marathon).
4. Set a Goal.
Signing up for a race can be a great way to keep motivated. Take a look at local races and pick one that sparks your interest. Even better – pick a race where you have the opportunity to fundraise for a favorite charity. Websites such asRunning in the USA are easy to use and have extremely comprehensive lists of local races. Just make sure to give yourself enough time to train (which in most cases will be a few months out from the time that you start your running routine).
(Seriously it’s that simple – the hardest thing is getting yourself out the door).
Are you a new runner? If so, what intimidates you the most? Are you a more seasoned runner? If so, what advice would you add to the list?